Sunday, 7 June 2020

How to Address Peers, a Handy Guide


Rarely a month goes by on Twitter without me having to correct someone who muddles up the name of a member of the House of Lords. Regrettably, some members of that House also don't seem to quite know what their own names even are!

So, here we present a guide. Which in my usual style will be presented in considerable detail. And we have to go through twice, once for Peers and their wives, and once again for their children (and their wives!)

Barons (and Lords of Parliament)

The lowest degree of the Peerage is that of Baron — except in the Peerage of Scotland where it is Lord of Parliament [1]. In all cases that anyone is ever likely to encounter, however, Barons are addressed as 
The Right Honourable [2] the Lord Lewis [3]
Or just the [4] Lord Lewis — which is probably the better form for most situations. In truly formal documents this might appear as
The Right Honourable the Baron Lewis
but that is almost never correct in any context you are likely to encounter [5].

What about the 'ofs' one sees? Well, it transpires that all Barons have a territorial designation (as they are known), just like all other Peers. In exceedingly formal things, that title would appear as
The Right Honourable the Baron Lewis, of Croesyceiliog [6] in the County of Torfaen [7]
But it would be totally incorrect to refer to such a Peer as Lord Lewis of Croesyceiliog. The designation is always omitted. But wait, I hear you say, all these other Peers have 'ofs'. And you would be correct. But the phrase you see is not their territorial designation, it is part of the title. And hence must not be omitted.

So to get the 'of' in the name proper, for example to differentiate two Lord Lewis, one of them would be created as
The Right Honourable the Baron Lewis of Croesyceiliog, of Croesyceiliog in the County of Torfaen
I.e. it is repeated. I promise it gets simpler from here. Whether Scottish Lords of Parliament are properly Lord Lewis or the Lord of Lewis is a question that entirely escapes me since none of the authorities can make their minds up on it. Just call them the Lord Lewis and you will be fine.

When Her Majesty the Queen communicates with a Peer in a highly formal context, she instead uses the formulation
Our Trusty and Well-beloved [10] Thomas Galloway Dunlop du Roy de Blicquy Lord Strathclyde [11]
but you are not The Queen, so don't do that.

Now, here I make a point so important part of it is in bold: it is always incorrect to do Lord Firstname Surname for a Baron. Always. Every time. Always.

Except for a case we will consider later, which is exceedingly rare in the scheme of things, you should assume that any and all Lords are Lord Surname. 

Remember: if you feel the urge to write Lord Benjamin Lewis, stop and delete the Benjamin. Otherwise I have to tweet grouchy things to you.

The proper spoken form of address (and letter salutation) is
My Lord
although
Lord Lewis
is not in any sense wrong.  

Finally, properly speaking Peers simple sign with their title, i.e. Lewis, but actual practice here varies a lot. [12]


Ladies

Wives of Barons are probably Baronesses, but calling them that is confusing, so they are invariably addressed as Lady, e.g. as
The Right Honourable the Lady Lewis
As above, no first names, and the Right Honourable can be omitted. Whether the 'the' can or should be seems to be even more vexed than for Barons [8]. Wives of Lords of Parliament are, obviously, Ladies of Parliament.

The generic term for all wives of Peers is Peeress. For reasons that I don't even pretend to understand, Debrett's says that the verbal form of address
My Lady
is incorrect, and that the form
Lady Lewis
should be used. Unlike Peers, Peeresses (but see below) sign as 
Firstname Title 

Baronesses suo iure

Suo iure Peeresses are Peeresses who hold their title as of right, and thus if otherwise eligible can [9] sit in Parliament. A practice seems to have developed of calling Baronesses suo iure Baroness, not Lady, e.g. as for 
The Right Honourable the Baroness Royall of Blaisdon
The confusing concept of abeyance means that hereditary Baronesses suo iure are exceedingly unusual (though more common than any other degree!) but female Life Peeresses are very common, and this is most often seen in that context.

Her Majesty seems to follow this usage too, e.g. the former Lord Speaker Baroness de Souza was
Our Trusty and Well-beloved Counsellor Frances Gertrude Claire Baroness D'Souza
Peeresses suo iure sign with just their title, like Peers. My Lady also seems to be incorrect for them too, though.

Right, that's Barons out of the way. You'll be pleased to know it really does get simpler from here. But first Bishops.


Bishops

Bishops of the Church of England rank between Barons and Viscounts, and while not Peers do work a bit like them sometimes, so we will include them here. Except we are going to pretend that Bishops Suffragan don't exist, to avoid a highly vexing question about their names.

All diocesan bishops are, despite their reluctance to use the term, formally Lord Bishops. And the "short" form of their titles is words to the effect of (it can vary a little)
The Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Southwark
This applies even if they are not one of the twenty-six Lords Spiritual. Whether it applies to suffragans I am going to gloss over at lightning speed.

In exceptionally formal situations, this is expanded out to
The Right Reverend Father in God, Christopher Thomas James, by Divine Permission [13] Lord Bishop of Southwark.
The form
The Right Reverend Christopher Thomas James Chessun
is, formally speaking, only correct for retired bishops [14], but seems to have percolated into common usage.

Bishops normally, but not always sign as
+Firstname LatinNameOfSee
There's a list somewhere.

It is handy to remember that the Lord Bishop of London is invariably a Privy Counsellor and thus is
The Right Reverend and Right Honourable the Lord Bishop of London
The title seems to remain as Lord Bishop even when the incumbent is a women, as at present. 

Ok. On up the ranks — don't worry, the two Lord Archbishops provide even more opportunities for ecclesiastical nomenclature.

Viscounts and Earls

We can take these together, since they are remarkably similar in most respects.

In the most formal cases, and in lists and so on, they are written as
The Right Honourable the Viscount Lewis [15]
The Right Honourable the Earl Lewis [16] 
Both often, but not invariably, have a barony as a subsidiary title, and a small number of Earls have Viscountcies too, but that doesn't change the title.

When Her Majesty issues a Patent or similar to a Viscount, She uses
Our Right Trusty and Well-beloved Cousin Charles Robin de Bohun Devereux Viscount Hereford [17]
And for Earls the ever so slightly more florid
Our Right Trusty and Entirely Beloved Cousin Charles Henry John Benedict Crofton Chetwynd Chetwynd-Talbot Earl of Shrewsbury [18]
However, practically, both Viscounts and Earls are invariably simply addressed outside of formal occasions as
The [Right Honourable the] Lord Lewis
And mirror in all senses the Barons. They, like all other Peers, sign with their titles, and so on.

Their Wives

The wives of Viscounts and Earls are, naturally Viscountess and... Countess. Slight reversion to continental form there! These operate rather as one expects, viz.
The Right Honourable the Viscountess Lewis
The Right Honourable the Countess Lewis
But again, except for formal situations, the form Lady Lewis is invariable practice. Otherwise they work very much like the wives of Barons. 

There actually is a current Countess suo iure, and similar rules to Baronesses suo iure apply to her with, however, the monition that Baroness is obviously nonsensical.

Marquesses and Marchionesses

And now we meet the first big difference. The Marquesses [19]. In spectacularly formal documents, they are
The Most Noble and Puissant Prince [20] the Marquess of Croesyceiliog
In ordinary levels of formality they are
The Most Honourable the Marquess of Croesyceiliog
And in more normal situations simply Lord Croesyceiliog. Notice the 'of' is omitted? To leave it in would invite confusion with the Scottish Lords of Parliament (remember them?).

Her Majesty's form for Marquesses is identical to Earls, for reasons lost to the sands of time. 

The wives of Marquesses are Marchionesses, and similar rules to Countesses apply, albeit with Most Honourable not Right Honourable.

Still following? Good, it's fun isn't it? 

Dukes and Duchesses

Top of the tree (not really) are the Dukes. In absurdly formal documents they are
The Most High, Most Noble, and Most Potent Prince the Duke of Croesyceiliog
in very formal documents they are
The Most Noble the Duke of Croesyceiliog
and in reasonably formal documents they are (yes, three different versions!)
His Grace the Duke of Croesyceiliog
Unlike the lesser degrees, Dukes are never (ever!) addressed as Lord. The short form is to simply say
The Duke of Croesyceiliog
Equally, my Lord is the wrong form of address, where instead
Your Grace
should be used (this also provides the adjectival form, replacing His Lordship's with His Grace's, etc.)

Duchesses, whether suo iure [21] or otherwise are the same but with Duchess substituted for Duke everywhere. Dukes, like all Peers, sign with just their title.

Her Majesty's formulation for Dukes is even more florid,
Our Right Trusty and Right Entirely Beloved Cousin [22] Edward William Fitzalan-Howard Duke of Norfolk [23]
I actually find the Dukes the simplest of the five degrees since they don't quasi-revert to looking like a Baron in most situations.

You will notice we still haven't seen a single example of Lord Firstname Surname. This is correct. And we wont until after another ecclesiastical digression.

The Lord Archbishops

The Lord Archbishops of Canterbury and York formally rank above the non-Royal Dukes, with the Lord High Chancellor nestled betwixt them. They also provide some wonderfully flowery titles. In highly formal documents, they are respectively (like London they are invariably Privy Counsellors)
The Most Reverend Father in God and Right Honourable Justin Portal by Divine Providence the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan
The Most Reverend Father in God and Right Honourable John Tucker Mugabi by Divine Providence the Lord Archbishop of York, Primate of England and Metropolitan
In lesser documents, they are usually
The Most Reverend [24] and Right Honourable the Lord Archbishop of [Canterbury] [York] 
The Primatial and Metropolitical [25] suffix is sometimes included.

Unlike mere bishops, archbishops are addressed as Your Grace, so the formulation
His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury
whilst not heard all that often is correct. The Most Reverend and the Grace bits only attach to an Archbishop whilst in office, on retirement they revert to Right Reverend.

They sign, respectively
+Justin Cantuar
+John Eboracum
Now we have to go around again to deal with children, which I warn in advance is an implausibly complicated topic.

Courtesy Titles

But first another monition: courtesy titles are explicitly not titles in the Peerage. They confer no rights whatsoever to anything, and are at least in theory entirely optional.

The children of all Peers, even Life Peers, have some form of courtesy title (how this works for things like legitimacy and adoption is something so complicated I will, like for suffragans, gloss right over it). These can be divided into two groups: those for 'other' children, and those for their Peer's heir (and his heir's heir; and I suppose at least in distant theory, his heir's heir's heir...)

And oddly, we will do them in that inverted order.

(It is arguable that the forms of address for younger children are not, strictly speaking, courtesy titles, but I think it is simpler to think of them as part of this morphological class rather than as a third one)

Younger Children

In a way this is a slight misnomer, since this section actually applies to all the children of Barons and Viscounts. But this was the simplest way to do it. 

Except for Marquesses and Dukes, these are
The Honourable Stephen Kinnock [26]
Being a Privy Counsellor displaces this, so the Honourable Jacob Rees-Mogg became the Right Honourable when he became Lord President of the Council.

And now we come to the dreaded Lord Firstname Surname. The younger sons of Dukes and Marquesses are either
Lord Benjamin Lewis
Lady Sophie Lewis
In this case and only this case, this is the correct way to do it. Now, the chances are whoeever you are writing about is not the younger son of a Duke or Marquess, and thus you almost never need to do this.

Also notice there is no 'the'. These courtesy titles also don't change the persons signature, nor does Her Majesty have a special way of addressing them beyond a commoner — which they legally remain.

Heirs 

The heirs of Dukes, Marquesses, and Earls, however, work slightly differently. Assuming their father has a usable subsidiary title (and I believe there is no extant Peerage without at least one underneath it, though in theory a Barony by Writ [27] could separate from an Earldom or similar by Patent).

Instead of being the Honourable, or Lord, they take their father's highest [28] subsidiary title and become, for example
Henry Fitzalan-Howard, Earl of Arundel
Again, notice the lack of a 'the'. In simpler circumstances, he is referred to like the Barons as Lord Arundel.

If the heir of a Duke or Marquess is known by courtesy as either a Marquess or an Earl, then his heirs can take a further, lower subsidiary title, e.g. before his father became Duke of Norfolk, the [29] Earl of Arundel was known as Lord Maltravers.

I think in theory, if the chain went Duke, Marquess by courtesy, Earl by courtesy, then a third iteration of this could happen. I am not sure how likely that is in practice.

Wives of heirs are addressed like their substantive equivalents, again without the 'the' and so on.
That concludes the peerage portion of all this. Except it doesn't, quite, because I have neglected to cover former wives, and some other oddities (like how daughters of Earls are inexplicably Lady not the Honourable). But if you need to deal with those, go buy Debrett's.

And remember the cardinal rule: Lord Firstname Surname is almost always wrong. Ask me if you're unsure (but I wont check, I will just assume it is wrong because the chances of you hitting the one case where it isn't are near zero, as we demonstrated above). Baroness Firstname Surname is exceptionally wrong, but that should be obvious by now.

Some other Lords

We will now briefly cover a few other types of Lord, just for completeness.

Justices of the Supreme Court are by Royal Warrant styled
[C1] Lord Sumption
The exact story behind this is quite complicated (and hilarious, to be quite honest) but these are explicitly not Peerages and in a legal sense operate more like a courtesy title.

Various offices are Lord Something, e.g. the Lord High Chancellor, the Lord Mayor of London, the Lord-Lieutenant of Berkshire. In all cases the Lord bit attaches to the office not the person.

The Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland provides the solitary exception to this idea, the incumbent being addressed as Your Grace like the pre-Act of Union Kings of Scots were.

And that is that. And remember the rule: Lord Firstname Surname is wrong (except for a corner case which you are unlikely to hit). 

Corrigenda

[C1] Rich Greenhill espied a spurious definite article here, which has been extirpated with the fury of God's own thunder.

[1] Baron means something else in Scotland, and a vestige of that can be seen in the Prince of Wales' title, which ends with "Baron Renfrew". His Royal Highness is most certainly not Lord Renfrew.
[2] I am not going to get into the game of whether Barons not Privy Counsellors are Right Honourable. They are, and the Ministry of Justice are just wrong on this point.
[3] To feed my ego, throughout this I am going to use me as the example :-)
[4] The 'the' is somewhat non-optional, but the sky doesn't fall in if it is left out, but it can cause odd confusion as we will see in a bit
[5] That Wikipedia insist on muddling this point up irritates me no end.
[6] I assure you this is a real place
[7] As is this
[8] Even Debrett's equivocates on this one!
[9] Since 1963
[10] Here insert 'counsellor' for Privy Counsellors
[11] His lordship is a real person!
[12] A whole joke in Fawlty Towers turns on this actually quite arcane point!
[13] Except Durham, Durham is 'by Divine Providence' for... palatinate reasons. Durham also has a ducal coronet on his arms and a sword crossed with a crozier behind them, not two crossed croziers. 
[14] Strictly it is correct for any bishop without a see, but almost always the cause of that is retirement.
[15] There are a small number of Scottish "of" Viscounts too, e.g. Oxfuird, which is also the name of a famous Peerage Claim.
[16] Earls of territorial things, like Mar are "of" while names, like "Grey" omit the of. 
[17] The Lord Hereford is the Premier Viscount of England.
[18] Lord Shrewsbury is not the Premier Earl of England, but since Arundel is held by the Dukes of Norfolk, his lordship is the most ancient Earl not to hold a higher title. Great name too!
[19] A few Scottish ones have, on occasion, spelled this Marquis in memory of the Auld Alliance.
[20] Those who say this is incorrect are wrong, but really this is all but defunct, I will admit that!
[21] The 3rd Duchess of Hamilton was a Duchess suo iure so this has happened.
[22] They are, obviously, not literally Her cousins.
[23] His Grace is the Premier Duke of England, and by virtue of also holding the Earldom of Arundel the Premier Earl; He is also the Earl Marshal of England and thus an hereditary Great Officer of State.
[24] I wrote this that way just to write Metropolitical
[25] Intriguingly and lost to the sands of time why, Meath and Kildare over in Ireland is a bishopric but a Most Reverend. 
[26] His father is the Lord Kinnock, the former Labour Leader, included here to demonstrate that this applies to Life Peers too.
[27] Try not to worry too much about it.
[28] Except in a few cases where this is confusing, where they take the second highest.
[29] The definite article here is part of the containing sentence, not part of the title. Which is confusing but c'est la vie.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

On the Calling Together and the Dispersing of a Parliament — II. First Meetings and the Oaths

In part I we saw how one Parliament is put out of existence and another summoned. Here, we will consider the procedures for assembling that Parliament and the amazingly complex history of the taking of the Oath of Allegiance.

It is once again... long... And I hope you like oaths, because there are more than you can possibly imagine.

The Meeting of the New Parliament

On the day appointed in the proclamation, both Houses assemble in their respective Chambers. In the Commons, the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery [63] presents to the Clerk of the House [64] the 'white book' containing, in theory, the bound volume of all those now endorsed and returned writs of election. In practice it is more of a 'box' at this stage and is bound up later.

The Votes and Proceedings then record it thusly, [65]
1. Meeting of the House 
The House met on the first day of this Parliament, pursuant to Proclamation. 
John Benger, Clerk of the House of Commons, Sarah Davies, Clerk Assistant, and Colin Lee, Principal Clerk of the Table Office, attended in the House, and the other Clerks attended, according to their duty. 
Sir Richard Heaton, Clerk of the Crown in Chancery in Great Britain, delivered to the said Sarah Davies a book containing a list of the names of the Members returned to serve in this Parliament. 
Sir Peter Bottomley took the Chair (Standing Order No. 1).
At the end we see the Father of the House taking the chair since no Speaker has yet been elected, though he sits at the Clerk's place at the Table. This was not always the case, before the advent of the modern Standing Order No. 1 the Clerk of the House was a sort of quasi-chair, but in a contested election for Speaker this all broke down and the modern practice was adopted, as we shall see momentarily.

Meanwhile, in the Lords, the Lord Speaker (in not so olden times, the Lord Chancellor) has entered and sat on the Woolsack, and the Leader of the House, here the Lord Privy Seal, announces that it is not actually convenient for Her Majesty to come today to get this Parliament in motion, [66]
My Lords, it not being convenient for Her Majesty personally to be present here this day, she has been pleased to cause a Commission under the Great Seal to be prepared in order to the holding of this Parliament.
She, and the rest of the Commissioners then retire to robe, and return and sit on a small bench in front of the Throne. And then says to Black Rod, this strangely not being recorded in Hansard "Let the Commons know that the Lords Commissioners desire their immediate attendance in this House to hear the Commission read".

Black Rod then collects the Commons with the usual door slamming.

The Commons have ambled up to the Bar of the House of Lords, the most senior member of the Royal Commission directs the Reading Clerk to read the Letters Patent, [66]
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, we are commanded by Her Majesty to let you know that, it not being convenient for her to be present here this day in her Royal Person, she hath thought fit, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal, to empower several Lords therein named to do all things in Her Majesty’s name, which are to be done on Her Majesty’s part in this Parliament as, by the Letters Patent, will more fully appear.
Which whilst not recorded in the Journals any more, can be reconstructed by taking the even more prolix older versions and adjusting them accordingly. As earlier, all line breaks are artificial to make this easier to follow, and with no apologies for the length, [67]
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Our other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith:  
To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting:  
Whereas, by the Advice of Our Council, for certain arduous and urgent Affairs concerning Us, the State and Defence of Our United Kingdom of [68], and the Church, We have ordered a certain Parliament to be holden at our City of Westminster, on Tuesday the Seventeenth Day of December instant:  
And for as much as for divers causes and considerations We cannot conveniently be present in Our Royal Person in Our said Parliament on the said Twenty-sixth Day of October instant; Know ye, that We, trusting in the Discretion, Fidelity, and Care of [69]  
The Most Reverend Father in God and Our faithful Counsellor Justine Portal by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Primate of All England and Metropolitan and Our trusty and well beloved Counsellor Robert Buckland Chancellor of Great Britain and others our counsellors mentioned, [70] 
by the Advice of Our said Council, do give and grant, by the Tenor of these Presents unto the said  
Most Reverend Father in God and Our faithful Counsellor Justine Portal by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Primate of All England and Metropolitan, Our trusty and well beloved Counsellor Robert Buckland Chancellor of Great Britain, Peter Norman Lord Fowler, Lord Speaker, Natalie Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Lord Privy Seal, Richard Mark Lord Newby, Igor Lord Judge, and Angela Evans Baroness Smith of Basildon [71] 
or any Three of them, full Power, in Our Name, to begin and hold Our said Parliament, and to open and declare, and cause to be opened and declared, the Causes of holding the same, and to proceed upon the said Affairs in Our said Parliament, and in all Matters arising therein, and to do every thing which for Us and by Us, for the good Government of Our said United Kingdom [68], and other Our Dominions thereto belonging, shall be there to be done;  
and also, if necessary, to continue, adjourn and prorogue Our said Parliament:
Commanding also, by the Tenor of these Presents, with the Assent of Our said Council, as well all and every the Archbishops, Bishops Lords [72] and Knights, as all others whom it concerns, to meet in Our said Parliament, that to the said Archbishop of Canterbury and Chancellor of Great Britain [73] and others our councillors aforesaid and any Three of them, they diligently intend in the Premises, in the Form aforesaid.  
Witness Ourself at Westminster, the Seventeenth Day of December, in the Sixty-Eight Year of Our Reign. 
By The Queen Herself, signed with Her own Hand.
Phew. Long Commission — I don't envy the Reading Clerk!

The senior Commissioner, who in 2019 was again the Lord Privy Seal, then tells the Commons to go away and elect a Speaker and to present him (or her) tomorrow for Her Majesty's approval [66]
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, we have it in command from Her Majesty to let you know that, as soon as the Members of both Houses shall be sworn, the causes of Her Majesty calling this Parliament will be declared to you; and, it being necessary that a Speaker of the House of Commons should be first chosen, it is Her Majesty’s pleasure that you, Members of the House of Commons, repair to the place where you are to sit, and there proceed to the choice of some proper person to be your Speaker, and that you present such person whom you shall so choose here for Her Majesty’s Royal Approbation.
Looking back to the Commission, a few things stand out — at least to me. Firstly the phrase
Us the State and Defence of Our United Kingdom of, and the Church
one might recall from the Writs of Summons of Peers, which contain
affairs concerning Us the state and defence of Our United Kingdom and Church
which is essentially identical. Similar phrases occur in other places too — in many ways this sentence is the generic summary of why any Parliament might be summoned. Either it is to make provision for the Crown (financial provision, that is), for the 'defence' of the realm (which here operates more like the phrase 'peace order and good governance' found in many former colonial and dominion constitutions), or for the Church (which at the time Parliamentary government was becoming normalised in England, was quite the 'hot-topic', after all!).

 Secondly,
by the Advice of Our said Council
like the dissolution and summoning of a Parliament, the opening of a Parliament is a prerogative power on which the Privy Council nominally advise. Of course, in practice it is the Prime Minister that does. No Order-in-Council is made for these Letters Patent, however, one assumes because they are a necessary consequence of the Order-in-Council ordering the writs be issued.
to open and declare, and cause to be opened and declared, the Causes of holding the same
This would seem to imply (and looking in the journals from the 17th and 18th centuries it is hard to find an exact example of this) that no further Commission would be necessary if the first Queen's Speech of a Parliament was to be by Commission too. However,
if necessary, to continue, adjourn and prorogue Our said Parliament
is curious, for when a Parliament was immediately prorogued on its opening, which as we will see in Part III was a surprisingly common occurrence once, a specific writ was issued authorising this. Finally, in
By The Queen Herself, signed with Her own Hand
we see a line that also occurs in the Letters Patent for Prorogations, Royal Assents, Royal Approbations, and no where else. All other Letters Patent are either
By Warrant under the Queen's Sign Manual
or
By the Queen Herself
(the latter meaning that the Patent was prepared by a so-called 'immediate warrant'). The phrasing in these Letters Patent, however, indicates that in addition to the Great Seal of the Realm, Her Majesty has Herself subscribed the Patent.

The Election of the Speaker

Lord Speakers are elected as and when a vacancy arises or when their term expires, so are outwith our scope. And of course, before the creation of the post, the Lord Chancellor was Speaker of the Lords and was obviously not elected at all.

But the Commons have elected — not always totally freely — their Speaker since 1376 [74]. Between then and 1971 there was no concept of an "Acting" Speaker, instead the Clerk of the House acted as a sort of quasi-Speaker for the election. In addition, until 2001, the election was not an election at all, but a motion to appoint a particular individual, followed if desired by a series of amendments to leave out the instant name and insert another.

When the election was either uncontested or only weakly contested this arrangement worked well. There was a significant limitation in the powers of the Clerk, being that he had no power to speak in the House to control members, so could only select a member to speak by "standing up, point[ing] to him and then [sitting] down" (as Hansard would record it [75]).

In 1971, it was decided that the Father of the House would be the "Speaker" until one was elected, thus solving this problem. However, the farcical nature of the election of a successor to Speaker Boothroyd in 2000 necessitated further changes. Now, the House votes in a series of secret paper ballots, where the candidate coming last, any candidate securing less than one-twentieth of the votes [76], and any candidate who withdraws being eliminated from subsequent rounds, until a candidate secures more than half the votes cast.

The question is then put, as in November 2019, that, [77]
Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 1B(13)), That Sir Lindsay Hoyle do take the Chair of this House as Speaker. 
Question agreed to. 
Resolved, That Sir Lindsay Hoyle do take the Chair as Speaker. 
Mr Kenneth Clarke left the Chair.
(this, strictly, was an election for a Speaker mid-way through the session; the minor differences this entails will be discussed below)

Then, a very old tradition is followed. In years past, a few Speakers when delivering bad news to their Monarch came off a little shorter than before (or met other unpleasant circumstances). Consequently, it is tradition now for the newly elected Speaker to feign reluctance and to be dragged to the Chair by the members who proposed him, as Sir Lindsay was, [77]
Sir Lindsay Hoyle was taken out of his place and conducted to the Chair by Jackie Doyle-Price, Mr Nigel Evans and Caroline Flint.
The Speaker-Elect then thanks the House, [77]
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, standing on the upper step, expressed his respectful and humble acknowledgement to the House of the great honour the House had been pleased to confer upon him, and sat down in the Chair.
And now that the House is properly constituted, the Mace which has hitherto sat under the Table like when the House is in Committee, is returned to its proper place, and the leaders of the main parties congratulate the Speaker elect, [77]
The Mace was placed upon the Table. 
The Prime Minister, Jeremy Corbyn, Patrick Grady, Jo Swinson and Nigel Dodds congratulated the Speaker Elect.
Before we consider Her Majesty's Approbation we need to note the slight differences at the start of a Parliament. Where the previous Speaker was not returned to Parliament (for whatever reason, but as "The Speaker Seeking Re-Election" is customarily unopposed by the major parties, retirement is the only likely reason) the procedure as above would be followed. But where, as in December 2019, the Speaker was returned, instead the Father of the House simply ascertains if he desires to be re-elected, and if so, the House proceeds to vote on the resolution that he takes the chair [78], viz. [79]
4. Re-election of former Speaker 
Sir Peter Bottomley inquired whether Sir Lindsay Hoyle, as the Member who was Speaker at the dissolution of the previous Parliament, was willing to be chosen as Speaker (Standing Order No. 1A). 
Sir Lindsay Hoyle stood up in his place, indicated that he was willing to be so chosen, and submitted himself to the House. 
Motion made, That Sir Lindsay Hoyle do take the Chair of this House as Speaker.—(Lisa Nandy.) 
Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 1A) and agreed to. 
Sir Peter Bottomley left the Chair.
A curious quirk of any day on which the House meets to elect a Speaker, whether at the start of a session or within it, is that prayers are not said.

Royal Approbation

Approbation is cognate with approval, and is the necessary step which transforms the Speaker-Elect into the Speaker. While in theory Her Majesty could give this in person, nowadays it is invariably done by the Royal Commissioners. At the start of the Parliament this is pursuant to the same Commission given for opening the Parliament. For a mid-session vacancy, a bespoke Commission is instead given.

Normally, at the start of a Parliament this occurs the day after the Speaker is elected. However, in the unusual circumstances of December 2019 it occurred on the same day. In either case, a government minister or whip, now often but not invariably the Prime Minister, needs to inform the House when Her Majesty's Commissioners will be ready to receive the Speaker-Elect. On December 17th, it was Iain Stewart [80]
I have to signify to the House the pleasure of Her Majesty that the House should present their Speaker this day at 3.45 pm in the House of Peers for Her Majesty’s Royal Approbation.
At the appointed time, Black Rod once again heads down to the Commons, has the door slammed in her face, and knocks, and summons them, this time with the words,
Mr. Speaker-Elect, the Lords who are authorised by Her Majesty's Commission desire the immediate attendance of this Honourable House, in the House of Peers.
And once again, the House ambles up to the Bar of the House of Lords.

There, the Speaker-Elect addresses the Lords Commissioners and informs them that Commons have elected him, [82]
Then, the Commons being at the Bar, Mr Speaker-Elect (Sir Lindsay Hoyle), addressing the Royal Commissioners, said: 
My Lords, I have to acquaint your Lordships that Her Majesty’s faithful Commons, in obedience to the Royal Command, have, in the exercise of their undoubted rights and privileges, proceeded to the election of a Speaker, and that their choice has fallen on me. I therefore present myself at your Lordships’ Bar and submit myself with all humility for Her Majesty’s gracious Approbation.
And the senior Lord Commissioner, in this case the Lord Privy Seal, replies, giving the Approbation,
Sir Lindsay, we are commanded to assure you that Her Majesty is so fully sensible of your zeal in the public service, and of your ample sufficiency to execute the arduous duties which her faithful Commons have selected you to discharge, that Her Majesty does most readily approve and confirm you as their Speaker.
There then follows one final exchange between the now confirmed Speaker and the Lords Commissioners. Except that Sir Lindsay was given the wrong card in December 2019 and omitted a key part, so we will now turn to June 2017 for the "correct" version (and will see the cause of what happened in 2019 momentarily too), [83]
The Speaker of the House of Commons said:  
My Lords, I submit myself with all humility and gratitude to Her Majesty’s gracious Commands. It is now my duty, in the name of and on behalf of the Commons of the United Kingdom, to lay claim, by humble petition to Her Majesty, to all their ancient and undoubted rights and privileges, especially to freedom of speech in debate, to freedom from arrest, and to free access to Her Majesty whenever occasion shall arise, and that the most favourable construction shall be put upon all their proceedings. With regard to myself, I pray that, if in the discharge of my duties I shall inadvertently fall into any error, it may be imputed to myself alone, and not to Her Majesty’s most faithful Commons.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: 
Mr Speaker, we have it further in Command to inform you that Her Majesty does most readily confirm all the rights and privileges which have ever been granted to or conferred upon the Commons by Her Majesty or any of her Royal predecessors. With respect to yourself, Sir, though Her Majesty is sensible that you stand in no need of such assurance, Her Majesty will ever place the most favourable construction upon your words and actions. 
Mr. Speaker and the Commons then retired.
Here, Mr. Speaker is doing two things. Firstly he confirms the Commons' right to free speech (now confirmed also in Article IX of the Bill of Rights [84]), to freedom from (civil) arrest, and as a body (Peers posses this right individually) to access to the Queen to present their grievances. This is only done once at the start of each Parliament, and it is here that Sir Lindsay erred. At a mid-session election this sentence, and the corresponding part of the Lord Privy Seal's reply, is omitted.

Secondly, the Speaker requests that the Lords Commissioners confirm that the Commons as a body will not be blamed for his errors. The Lord Privy Seal then essentially replies that the Queen is convinced he wont err anyway!

Before this, the Lords had already begun swearing in. The Commons, now fully assembled, can do likewise. This creates the odd situation that MPs, like those in Sinn Fein, who do not take the oath, could in theory participate in the election for the Speaker (though, before 1831, as we shall see, this was not quite so...). [85]

The Oath of Allegiance

By virtue of section 2 of the Promissory Oaths Act 1868 [86], as applied by sections 8 and 14 thereof [87]  and as modified by section 1 of the Oaths Act 1978 [88], the Oath of Allegiance taken by MPs and Peers is
I do swear by almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II [89], her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.
As originally provided for by the Oaths Act 1888 [90], and now by section 5 of the Oaths Act 1978, this can instead be taken as a Solemn Affirmation, in the form
I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II [89], her heirs and successors, according to law.
As to the manner of taking the oath, this too is provided for by the Oaths Act 1978. Section 1(1) requires that,
The person taking the oath shall hold the New Testament, or, in the case of a Jew, the Old Testament, in his uplifted hand
And then at section 1(3),
In the case of a person who is neither a Christian nor a Jew, the oath shall be administered in any lawful manner.
In one of the Despatch Boxes in each House a collection of religious texts is therefore kept for this purpose. Alternatively, the method provided for at section 3 could be used, viz.
If any person to whom an oath is administered desires to swear with uplifted hand, in the form and manner in which an oath is usually administered in Scotland, he shall be permitted so to do, and the oath shall be administered to him in such form and manner without further question
And just in case, section 4(2) provides that
Where an oath has been duly administered and taken, the fact that the person to whom it was administered had, at the time of taking it, no religious belief, shall not for any purpose affect the validity of the oath.
After taking the oath, the MP in question then signs the Test Roll, so named for its connection with the old Test Acts (keep reading!). Peers, in addition to signing the roll, also sign an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.

An MP who sits or votes without taking the oath automatically vacates their seat, so this is of prime importance. In addition, an MP or Peer who so sits or votes is liable to be fined. Further, MPs are not paid a salary until they swear in.

In a normal Parliament, this process continues for a few days. In December 2019 it was telescoped into two, with stragglers mopped up the next week.

Oaths of Allegiance Before 1701 (ish)

The content of the Oath of Allegiance as we know it was only settled in 1868. Fair warning — almost all the forms of the oath were exceptionally prolix before this time. In addition, I am not entirely sure the interaction of all that follows is correct, such is the risk of trying to make sense of interacting old statutes.

The Parliamentary Oaths Act 1866 (only two years prior) defined the Oath of Allegiance to be
I A. B. do swear that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria; and I do faithfully promise to maintain and support the Succession to the Crown, as the same stands limited and settled by virtue of the Act passed in the Reign of King William the Third, intituled "An Act for the further Limitation of the Crown, and better securing the Eights and Liberties of the Subject," and of the subsequent Acts of Union with Scotland and Ireland. So help me GOD.
This replaced differing oaths, for religious reasons, for Roman Catholics (via section 2 of the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 [90]) for Jews (via section 1 of the Jews Relief Act 1858 [91]) and consolidated the affirmation authorised for Quakers by 22° Vict. cap. 10 [92].

In addition, it replaced the triplicate set of an Oath of Allegiance, the Assurance, and the Oath of Abjuration with one single oath. The full evolution of this begins with, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Oath of Supremacy under Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy [93], which, as later re-enacted as Elizabeth I's Act of Supremacy [94], provided for the Oath of Supremacy to be
I, A. B., do utterly testify and declare in my conscience that the queen's highness is the only supreme governor of this realm and of all other her highness's dominions and countries, as well in all spiritual or ecclesiastical things or causes as temporal, and that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm; and therefore I do utterly renounce and forsake all foreign jurisdictions, powers, superiorities, and authorities, and do promise that from henceforth I shall bear faith and true allegiance to the queen's highness, her heirs, and lawful successors, and to my power shall assist and defend all jurisdictions, pre-eminences, privileges, and authorities granted or belonging to the queen's highness, her heirs, and successors, or united or annexed to the imperial crown of this realm: so help me God and by the contents of this Book.

By the Act 30° Car. 2. stat. 2. cap. 1. [95] the first of the religious tests were added. This Act also required the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and the new religious test, to be sworn in the manner we are now used to — that is, at the Table of the House, with the House assembled, etc. — before MPs and Peers could sit (see the final paragraph of section 1). The test, in the Act called the declaration, itself was
I A. B. doe solemnely and sincerely in the presence of God professe testifie and declare That I doe believe that in the Sacrament of the Lords Supper there is not any Transubtantiation of the Elements of Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at or after the Consecration thereof by any person whatsoever; And that the Invocation or Adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other Saint, and the Sacrifice of the Masse as they are now used in the Church of Rome are superstitious and idolatrous, And I doe solemnely in the presence of God professe testifie and declare That I doe make this Declaration and every part thereof in the plaine and ordinary sence of the Words read unto me as they are commonly understood by English Protestants without any Evasion, Equivocation or Mentall Reservation whatsoever and without any Dispensation already granted me for this purpose by the Pope or any other Authority or Person whatsoever or without any hope of any such Dispensation from any person or authority whatsoever or without thinking that I am or can be acquitted before God or Man or: absolved of this Declaration or any part thereof although the Pope or any other. Person or Persons or Power whatsoever should dispence with or annull the same, or declare that it was null and void from the begining.
Further, by the Act 13° Will. III. cap. 6. [96], what became known as the Oath of Abjuration was added (and fair warning, this is long!),
I A. B. do truly and sincerely acknowledge profess testify and declare in my Conscience before God and the World That our Sovereign Lord King William is lawfull and rightful King of this Realm and of all other His Majesties Dominions and Countries thereunto belonging And I do solemnly and sincerely declare That I do believe in my Conscience that the Person pretended to be the Prince of Wales during the Life of the late King James and since his Decease pretending to be and taking upon himself the Stile and Title of King of England by the Name of James the Third hath not any Right or Title whatsoever to the Crown of this Realm or any other the Dominions thereto belonging And I do renounce refuse and abjure any Allegiance or Obedience to him And I do swear that I will bear Faith and true Allegiance to His Majesty King William and Him will defend to the utmost of my Power against all Traiterous Conspiracies and Attempts whatsoever which shall be made against His Person Crown or Dignity And I will do my best endeavour to disclose and make known to His Majesty and His Successors all Treasons and Traiterous Conspiracies which I shall know to be against Him or any of them And I do faithfully promise to the utmost of my Power to support maintain and defend the Limitation and Succession of the Crown against him the said James and all other Persons whatsoever as the same is and stands limited (by an Act intituled An Act declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and setling the Succession of the Crown) to His Majesty during His Majesties Life and after His Majesties Decease to the Princess Ann of Denmark and the Heirs of Her Body being Protestants and for default of such Issue to the Heirs of the Body of His Majesty being Protestants And as the same by one other Act intituled An Act for the further Limitation of the Crown and better securing the Rights and Liberties of the Subject is and stands limitted after the Decease of His Majesty and the Princess Ann of Denmark and for default of Issue of the said Princess and of His Majesty respectively to the Princess Sophia Electoress and Dutchess Dowager of Hanover and the Heirs of Her Body being Protestants And all these Things I do plainly and sincerely acknowledge and swear according to these express Words by me spoken and according to the plain and common Sense and Understanding of the same Words without any Equivocation mental Evasion or secret Reservation whatsoever And I do make this Recognition Acknowledgment Abjuration Renunciation and Promise heartily willingly and truly upon the true Faith of a Christian. So help me God.
The same Act provided that this was to be taken at the same time as the Declaration in the Act of Charles II mentioned above.

We will now jump forward to the accession of George I, since all that happened in between was a series of piecemeal amendments to all this (or at least, that's what seems to have happened), in addition to requiring the Assurance be made in Scotland (to deal with the Jacobite threat).

The Oaths of Allegiance, Supremacy, and Abjuration, and the Assurance until 1866 (ish)

The Act 1° Geo. I stat. 2 cap. 13 [97] provided new definitions for the three oaths and for the assurance, and unlike the piecemeal approach previously, it is somewhat easier to see how this evolved into the modern forms.

First the Oath of Allegiance, which has a decidedly modern form,

I A.B. do sincerely promise and swear, That I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King George. So help me God.
The principal difference being that heirs and successors are not yet mentioned, for reasons that will readily become apparent. Then a now much abbreviated Oath of Supremacy, shorter than the Elizabethan form, but somewhat nastier too to my reading,
I A.B. do swear, that I do from my heart abhor, detest and abjure, as impious and heretical, that damnable doctrine and position, that princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope, or any authority of the See of Rome, may be desposed or murthered by their subjects, or any other whatsoever. And I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this Realm. So help me God.
And the new Oath of Abjuration, the principal difference being modifications to the descent, which by the Act of Settlement was now limited solely to the protestant descendants of the Electress, (and fiar warning again, it is long!)

I A.B. do truly and sincerely acknowledge, profess, testify and declare in my conscience before God and the world that our Sovereign Lord King George is lawful and rightful King of this Realm and all other his Majesty's dominions and countries thereunto belonging. And I do solemnly and sincerely declare, that I do believe in my conscience, that the person pretended to be the Prince of Wales, during the life of the late King James, and since his decease pretending to be, and taking upon himself, the title and stile of King of England, by the name of James the Third, or of Scotland, by the name of James the Eighth, or the stile and title of King of Great Britain, hath not any right or title whatsoever to the Crown of this Realm, or any other the dominions thereunto belonging; and I do renounce, refuse, and abjure any allegiance of obedience to him. And I do swear, that I will bear faith and true allegiance to His Majesty King George and him will defence to the utmost of my power, against all traiterous conspiracies and attempts whatsoever, which shall be made against his Person, Crown, or Dignity. And I will do my utmost endeavour to disclose and make known to His Majesty, and his Successors, all treasons and traiterous conspiracies which I shall know to be against him, or any of them. And I do faithfull promise, to the utmost of my power, to support, maintain, and defend the succession of the Crown against him the said James, and all other persons whatsoever, which succession, by an Act, intitled, An Act for the further limitation of the Crown and better securing the rights and liberties of the subject, is and stands limited to the Princess Sophia, Electoress and Dutchess Dowager of Hanover and the heirs of her body being protestants. And all these things I do plainly and sincerely acknowledge and swear, according to these express words by me spoken and according to the plain and common sense and understanding of the same words, without any equivocation, mental evaison, or secret reservation whatsoeve. And I do make this recognition, acknowledgement, renunciation and promise, heartily, willingly and truly, upon the true faith of a Christian. So help me God.
(I probably could have just worked out what had changed between them, now I read back, and posted that...)

Finally, in Scotland an additional declaration called the Assurance (and wildly hated, by all accounts) was required to be subscribed against Jacobism, viz.
I A.B. do, in the sincerity of my heart, assert, acknowledge, and declare, That His Majesty King George is the only lawful and undoubted Sovereign of the realm, as well de jure, that is, of right King, as de facto, that is, in the possession and exercise of the government; and therefore I do sincerely and faithfully promise and engage, That I will, with heart and hand, life and goods, maintain and defence His Majesty's title and government, against the persons pretended to be Prince of Wales, during the life of the late King James and since his decease, pretending to be and taking upon himself the stile and title of King od England, by the name of James the Third, or of Scotland, by the name of James the Eighth, or the stile and title of King of Great Britain, and his adherents, and all other enemies, who either by open or secret attempts, shall disturb or disquiet His Majesty in the possession and exercise thereof.
The declaration against transubstantiation (i.e. the Test) was preserved by section 26 of this Act too.

In 1766, by what became known as the Treason Act 1766 [98], the Oath of Abjuration and the Assurance were amended to take account of the death of the pretender. But I think I will not bore you with reciting them again.

The declaration against transubstantion was eliminated by the Sacramental Test Act 1828 [98bis], and as mentioned above, the 1866 Act eliminated all these oaths entirely, and substituted one uniform Oath of Allegiance.

For reasons that escape me, some of these enactments required that oaths in question only be taken between 9 a.m. and noon, as for example can be found just before the Oath of Abjuration in the 1701 Act, and others, e.g. in the statute of Charles II between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.. This being found to be grossly inconvenient, by 6° & 7° Vict. cap. 6. [99] extended this for Parliamentary purposes to between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

That curious provision would normally be a bit much even for British standards, but there remains one more.

Oaths before the Lord Steward

The start of the new Parliament in 1831, in the middle of the reform crisis, was also the last occasion a true constitutional oddity occurred. Then, as now, the Oaths above mentioned (all four or five of them) were taken after the election of a Speaker. However, the same oaths (or at least the Oath of Allegiance) would be taken in the Long Gallery (the historical antecedent of the Royal Gallery in the new Palace) before the Lord Steward of His Majesty's Household. As recorded in the Hansard of the day,
The Lord Steward attended in the Long Gallery to swear in the Members of the House of Commons: and a considerable number were sworn in. The Commons being summoned, repaired to the House of Peers, accompanied by the Clerk of the House; and on their return the Clerk informed the Members that a Commission appointed by his Majesty had commanded the Commons to choose a Speaker. Mr. Ley took his place at the Table, and was addressed as Speaker.
Later, in January 1833, we see that the practice has gone, but Hansard feels the need to remark so! [101]
The Act for abolishing the oaths to be taken before the Lord Steward having come into operation, no oaths were taken ​ before the Members assembled, and a great number was present when the House was summoned to the House of Peers.
This requirement had been first established by the Act 7° Jac. 1, cap. 6 [102], which in the middle of a voluminous provision about who should take which oaths before whom, provided that
And all and every the Knights Citizens Burgesses and Barons of the Fyve Portes of the Commons House of Parliament at any Parliament or Session of Parliament hereafter to be assembled, before herr or they shall be permitted to appear in the said House, before the Lord Steward for the tyme being or his Deputie or Deputies
Even for the House in the 1830s this requirement was seen as utterly farcical — at least by some. The bill to repeal it passed its third reading 76 — 26 [103]

Colophon

Still breathing? Good. Next time we will advance to State Opening!


(yes the footnote numbering starts where Part I left off; trying to adjust them would probably make things worse, not better...)
[63] An office invariably held ex officio by the Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice
[64] Who is actually the Under-Clerk of the Parliaments
[67] Built from a high-velocity merger of this — Pages 4 and 5 of volume 63 of the Lords Journals, from 1831 — with this YouTube video
[68] Until you know when the words "Great Britain and Ireland" appeared here, before 1801 it was just "Great Britain", and before 1707 is left as an exercise for the reader (I'm not even sure if there were any Commissions of this form that far back!)
[69] Before 1999, i.e. for the last time in 1997, the words "Our most dear and most entirely beloved Son and most faithful Counsellor Charles Phillip Arthur George Prince of Wales" appeared here.
[70] At some point between the early 19th and early 20th centuries, the full list of Commissioners stopped being given twice, with only the Prince, Archbishop, and Chancellor being mentioned in this part.
[71] Until a different point in the 19th century, it was the custom to list every Peer who was a Privy Counsellor here, which could produce some fantastically long lists!
[72] Until some point also in the 19th century, this read "Archbishops Bishops Earls Viscounts Barons Knights"; then it became "Archbishops Dukes Marquesses Earls Viscounts Bishops Barons Knights"; then after 1999 it became the current "Archbishops Bishops Lords Knights".
[73] The full list was often repeated here too.
[74] Sir Peter de la Mere, in the "Good Parliament"
[75] See, for example, Commons Hansard, volume 493, column 2
[76] The Standing Orders say 5 % but I prefer fractions.
[77] Votes and Proceedings, No. 14, Session 2019
[78] And if this was negatived, the procedure for a full election would be conducted the next day.
[79] Votes and Proceedings, No. 1, Session 2019-21
[80] This is I think slightly unusual, in previous occaisons it has been when not the Prime Minister either a Privy Counsellor or a member of Her Majesty's Household.
[81] Commons Hansard, volume 668, column 10
[82] Lords Hansard, volume 801, column 3
[83] Lords Hansard, volume 783, column 3
[84] 1° Will. & Mar. s. 2 cap. 2
[85] Section 5 of the Parliamentary Oaths Act 1866 (29° and 30° Vict. cap. 19), with the words "votes as such in the said House, or sits during any debate after the Speaker has been chosen" actually explicitly acknowledges this possibility.
[86] 31° & 32° Vict. cap. 72
[87] Which had the effect of suppressing section 1 of the Parliamentary Oaths Act 1866 (29° and 30° Vict. cap. 19)
[88] 1978 cap. 19
[88] And section 10 thereof provides authority for substituting Queen Elizabeth II for Queen Victoria here.
[89] 51° & 52° Vict. cap. 46; this was the culmination of Bradlaugh's campaign.
[90] 10° Geo. V. cap. 7 (Google Books link, the repealed section 2 is not on legislation.gov.uk)
[91] 21° & 22° Vict. cap. 49
[92] "An Act to settle the Form of Affirmation to be made in certain Cases by Quakers and other Persons by Law permitted to make an Affirmation instead of taking an Oath", repealed before any Short Titles Act could provide a short title for it.
[93] 26° Hen. VIII. cap. 1
[94] 1° Eliz. I. cap. 1, "An acte restoring to the crown the ancient jurisdiction over the state ecclesiastical and spiritual and abolishing all foreign power repugnant to the same", a small part of which is still in force today at section 8
[95] Also predating the concept of short titles, this is "An Act for the more effectuall preserving the Kings Person and Government by disableing Papists from sitting in either House of Parlyament"
[96] "An Act for the further Security of His Majesties Person and the Succession of the Crown in the Protestant Line and for extinguishing the Hopes of the pretended Prince of Wales and all other Pretenders and their open and secret Abettors."
[97] "An Act for the further security of his Majesty's person and government, and the succession of the crown in the heirs of the late Princess Sophia, being protestants; and for extinguishing the hopes of the pretended Prince of Wales, and his open and secret abettors.", page 187 ish of volume 11 of Statutes at Large
[98bis] 9° Geo. IV, cap. 17
[98] 6° Geo. III cap. 53, "An Act for altering the Oath of Abjuration and the Assurance; and for amending so much of an Act of the Seventh Year of her late Majesty Queen Anne, intituled, An Act for the Improvement of the Union of the two Kingdoms, as, after the Time therein limited, requires the Delivery of certain Lists and Copies therein mentioned to Persons indicted of High Treason, or Misprision of Treason.", page 287 or so of volume 13 of Statutes at Large.
[99] "An Act to alter the Hours within which certain Oaths and Declarations are to be made and subscribed in the House of Peers"
[100] Commons Hansard, volume 4, column 74
[101] Commons Hansard, volume 15, column 35
[102] "An Acte for the administering the Oath of Allegiance and Reformacion of married Woman Recusant", page 1162 of part II of volume IV of Statutes of the Realm.
[103] Commons Handard, volume 5, column 92

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

On the Calling Together and the Dispersing of a Parliament — I. Dissolution and Summoning


In this gargantuan blog post, and four more to follow in the coming days once I've proofread them, we will consider the processes around the creation, ending, and suspension, and revival of Parliaments. One of my singular favourite topics. We will also consider the process of Royal Assent [1] since, historically, it was bound up in the same thing.

But first a terminological point. Why a Parliament? Well, the current Parliament is the Fifty-Eighth Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. At each general election, the mechanics of which we will discuss below, the Parliament then in being quite metaphorically turns into a puff of smoke, and a new one is formed. And this blog is concerned with how one Parliament goes out of existence, and another comes in to being.

We have to do this essentially twice, because in 2011 a fundamental change happened to the legislation underpinning all this, but the modern ways only truly make sense in their historical context.

Dissolution and Summoning (the older, better, way)

The process of putting an end to one Parliament is that of dissolution. In a strict sense, it need not be connected to the process of forming a new one (summoning), though current legislation inextricably intertwines the two.

Historically, the dissolution was a prerogative of the Crown, and under a concept called the Lascelles' Principles [2] was one of the few occasions a Sovereign might depart from the advice of Her Prime Minister. Now it is an automatic process governed by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 [3]. We will return to this later. First we will look at how it used to be done.

The 2010 election was the last precipitated by a dissolution proclamation, which has been for easily five-hundred years always combined with the proclamation summoning the new Parliament to meet.

Such a proclamation would usually issue after an Order-in-Council [4] was made authorizing the Lord Chancellor to affix the Great Seal to it. This was certainly done in 2005, viz.
Proclamation for dissolving the Parliament and for calling another to meet on Wednesday the eleventh day of May 2005, and of an Order in Council directing the Lord Chancellor to cause the Great Seal to be affixed to the Proclamation. 
Order in Council directing the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to issue Writs for the calling of a new Parliament to meet on the eleventh day of May 2005.  
But the equivalent Order is missing from the Privy Council website for 2010...

The Dissolution Proclamation

The Proclamation itself is then published in a Supplement to the London [4], Edinburgh [5], and Belfast [6] Gazettes and read by the Common Crier of the City of London outside the Royal Exchange [7] and by the Lord Lyon King of Arms at the Mercat Cross in Edinburgh [8] thusly

BY THE QUEEN 
A PROCLAMATION 
FOR DISSOLVING THE PRESENT PARLIAMENT AND DECLARING THE CALLING OF ANOTHER 
ELIZABETH R. 
Whereas We have thought fit, by and with the advice of Our Privy Council, to dissolve this present Parliament, which stands prorogued to Tuesday, the twentieth day of April: We do, for that End, publish this Our Royal Proclamation, and do hereby dissolve the said Parliament accordingly: And the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Members of the House of Commons, are discharged from further Attendance thereat: And We being desirous and resolved, as soon as may be, to meet Our People, and to have their Advice in Parliament, do hereby make known to all Our loving Subjects Our Royal Will and Pleasure to call a new Parliament: and do hereby further declare, that, by and with the advice of Our Privy Council, We have given Order that Our Chancellor of Great Britain and Our Secretary of State for Northern Ireland do respectively, upon Notice thereof, forthwith issue out Writs, in due Form and according to Law, for calling a new Parliament: And We do hereby also, by this Our Royal Proclamation under Our Great Seal of Our
Realm, require Writs forthwith to be issued accordingly by Our said Chancellor and Secretary of State respectively, for causing the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons who are to serve in the said Parliament to be duly returned to, and give their Attendance in, Our said Parliament on Tuesday, the eighteenth day of May next, which Writs are to be returnable in due course of Law. 
Given at Our Court at Windsor Castle, this twelfth day of April in the Year of our Lord two thousand and ten and in the fifty-ninth year of Our Reign. 
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN
Breaking this wall of text down a bit. 
by and with the advice of Our Privy Council
Dissolutions of Parliament were an exercise of the Royal Prerogative, given form by the proclamation being ordered to be sealed by Order-in-Council. Contrast this with the enacting formula for Acts, which has "by and with the advice and consent of the Lords [...]" (my emphasis), and one sees the differing constitutional positions.
which stands prorogued to Tuesday 
In many, but not all, cases, Parliaments were prorogued pending the dissolution. This was, however, entirely unnecessary.
the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Members of the House of Commons, are discharged from further Attendance thereat
This reflects the theory that attendance at a Parliament was a duty for Peers and MPs, and therefore they had to be discharged by Her Majesty
forthwith issue out Writs
This, combined with the second Order-in-Council, is what historically actually triggered the process of an election occurring. Specifically, rule 1 of the Parliamentary Election Rules [10] as they had effect before the 2011 Act provided that
Publication of notice of election — In the case of a general election or by-election, not later than 4 in the afternoon on the second day after that on which the writ is received. [11]
Consequently, no writ equals no election. Writs would also be issued under this part of the proclamation to the Lords Spiritual and Temporal. They required no election, but still had to be individually summoned to the new Parliament, having been discharged from the earlier one.
give their Attendance in, Our said Parliament on Tuesday, the eighteenth day of May next
This actually summons the new Parliament to meet. The astute will notice that the Proclamation does not actually specify the date of the election (nor the poll, which wise readers will know is not the same thing). The date of election and date of poll were defined by the Parliamentary Election Rules as
the sixth day after the date of the proclamation summoning the new Parliament
between the hours of 7 in the morning and 10 at night on the eleventh [12] day after the last day for delivery of nomination papers
respectively. (It is important to note this timings have all changed in the new regime). Finally,
which Writs are to be returnable in due course of Law
hints at the statutory nature of this process.

The Writs of Election

(The subtly different writs of summons for Peers and Lords Spiritual are discussed in the next section, but it is worth noting that this Order-in-Council provides authority for both species of writ.)

The text of the second Order-in-Council, directing writs be issued to cause the election to be held, is also given in the Gazettes [13]

At the Court at
Windsor Castle the 12th day of April 2010 
Present, 
The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty in Council 
Her Majesty, having been this day pleased by Her Royal Proclamation to dissolve the present Parliament and to declare the calling of another, is hereby further pleased, by and with the advice of Her Privy Council, to order that the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland do respectively, upon notice of this Her Majesty’s Order, forthwith cause Writs to be issued in due form and according to Law for the calling of a new Parliament, to meet at the City of Westminster on Tuesday, the 18th day of May 2010; which Writs are to be returnable in due course of Law.
This Order gives effect to the obligation under the Parliamentary Election Rules that the writs be issued
as soon as practicable after the issue of the proclamation summoning the new Parliament.
In the pre-2011 Act regime, the writ of election would be in the following form, one of these being sent to each of the 650 Returning Officers [14] in the United Kingdom, viz. [15]
Elizabeth the Second by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Our other Realms and Territories Queen Head of the Commonwealth Defender of the Faith to the Returning Officer for the [Monmouth] Constituency Greeting 
Whereas by the advice of Our Council We have ordered a Parliament to be holden at Westminster on the [18th] day of [May] next We Command you that due notice being first given you do cause election to be made according to law of a Member to serve in Parliament for the said [Monmouth] Constituency And that you do cause the name of such Member when so elected, whether he be present or absent, to be certified to Us in Our Chancery without delay 
Witness Ourself at Westminster the [12th] day of [April] in the [fifty-ninth] year of Our Reign, and in the year of Our Lord [2010].
On the reverse of the writ there would then be printed (these are respectively known as the label, the endorsement, and the certificate)
To the Returning Officer for the [Monmouth] Constituency.
A writ of a new election of a Member for the said Constituency.

Received the within Writ on the        day of        , 20        . 
(Signed)
Returning Officer (or as the case may be.)

I hereby certify, that the Member elected for the[Monmouth] Constituency in pursuance of the within written Writ is        of        in the County of 
(Signed)
Returning Officer (or as the case may be.) 
Note: in relation to any constituency in Wales, “county” in this form refers to a preserved county (as defined by section 64 of the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994). [16]
A slightly baroque process is defined for the process of getting the writ from the Crown Office to each Returning Officer [17]. Upon receipt, the Returning Officer would then endorse the date in the first part. Then, after the declaration of the result, he would enter the name of the newly elected MP, and they would return (now the titles make sense) that writ to the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery.

Writs of Summons

Peers, on the other hand (but wait for it [18]!), and Lords Spiritual are not elected. Instead they summoned to the new Parliament by a device call a Writ of Summons. In theory [19], before the House of Lords Act 1999 [20], sending a Writ of Summons to someone who was not actually a Lord Temporal would have the effect of making them in to a Baron (which is also related to the reason that effectively all Peers who have higher titles have a barony underneath it too).

The text, which has been slightly changed in more recent years was historically
Elizabeth the Second by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Our other Realms and Territories Queen Head of the Commonwealth Defender of the Faith to Our [right trusty and well beloved] [21] [Counsellor] [22] [Benjamin Lewis of Cwmbran in Our County of Gwent] Chevalier [23] Greeting 
WHEREAS by the advice and assent of Our Council for certain arduous and urgent affairs concerning Us the state and defence of Our United Kingdom and Church We have ordered a certain Parliament to be holden at Our City of Westminster on the [twelfth] day of [May] next ensuing and there to treat and have conference with the Prelates Great Men [24] and Peers of Our Realm We strictly enjoining 
COMMAND you upon the faith and allegiance by which you are bound to Us that the weightiness of the said affairs and imminent peris considered (waiving all excuses) you e at the said day and place personally present with Us and with the said Prelates Great Men [24] and Peers to treat and give your counsel upon the affairs aforesaid And this as you regard Us and Our honour and the safety and defence of the said Kingdom and Church and dispatch of the said affairs in nowise do you omit 
WITNESS Ourself at Westminster the [twelth] day of [April] in the [fifty-ninth] year of Our Reign. 
(this is customarily printed as one continuous sentence, I have broken it up so it is readable).

Curiously, there is a statutory authority for the text of a Lord Spiritual's Writ of Summons, at schedule 1 to the Crown Office (Forms and Proclamations Rules) Order 1988 [25] but it appears to be in all senses identical to the Temporal one.

In the Order-in-Council, the Secretary of State was directed to issue these writs (and the writs of election) in addition to the Lord Chancellor. This oddity is a result of the residual responsibilities of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland devolving first on the Governor of Northern Ireland, and then on the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. In practice, it makes little difference.

But before 1999, this was not the only way one could serve in the House of Peers. And it's also not our final form of writ — that would be too easy!

Writs in Acceleration

When it was desired for the heir of an elderly peer (who was at or above the rank of Earl) to sit in the Lords before he succeeded to his father's peerage, the device called a Writ in Acceleration was resorted to. This took the form of a Royal Warrant to the Lord Chancellor directing him to summon the heir to the Lords, viz. (this being the exact form of the very final warrant to do this even issued) [26]
Right Trusty and Well-beloved Counsellor We greet you well! 
OUR WILL AND PLEASURE is that you make or cause to be made forthwith One Writ of Summons under Our Great Seal to be directed to Our Right Trusty and Well-beloved Robert Michael James Gascoyne-Cecil (commonly called Viscount Cranborne) eldest son and heir apparent of Our Right Trusty and Entirely-beloved Cousin Robert Edward Peter, Marquess of Salisbury, to be personally present with Us and the Prelates, Nobles and Peers of Our Realm at Our Parliament at Westminster and to sit in his father's Barony of Cecil, of Essendon in the County of Rutland. 
AND for so doing this shall be your Warrant. 
GIVEN at Our Court at Windsor the twenty-ninth day of April 1992; In the Forty-first year of Our Reign. 
By Her Majesty's Command.  
To Our Right Trusty and Well-beloved Counsellor James Peter Hymers, Baron Mackay of Clashfern, Our Chancellor of Great Britain.
A Writ of Summons in what appears to be the usual form would then issue. The accelerated Peer would then sit (and have privilege of the Peerage, etc.) in the name of his father's barony, but would be known by his usual courtesy title. So, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, the first son of the Marquess of Salisbury, sat from 1992 until his father's death in the Barony of Essendon but was invariably known as Viscount Cranborne [27] [28]

Writs of Attendance

Law Officers and senior judges are customarily summoned to attend (but not to be part of) Parliament (unless they are themselves a Peer, of course) by the device of a Writ of Attendance. For example, this would summon a Lord Justice of Appeal [29]

Elizabeth the Second by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Our other Realms and Territories Queen Head of the Commonwealth Defender of the Faith To Our right trusty and well beloved Counsellor Sir [Benjamin Lewis] Knight one of Our Lords Justices of Appeal Greeting  
WHEREAS by the advice and assent of Our Council for certain arduous and urgent affairs concerning Us the state and defence of Our United Kingdom and the Church We have ordered a certain Parliament to be holden at Our City of Westminster on the [twelfth] day of [May] next ensuing and there to treat and have conference with the Prelates Great Men and Peers of Our Realm We strictly enjoining  
COMMAND you that (waiving all excuses) you be at the said day and place personally present with Us and with the rest of Our Council to treat and give your advice upon the affairs aforesaid And in this nowise do you omit WITNESS Ourself at Westminster the [twelth] day of [April] in the [fifty-ninth] year of Our Reign.

I have always thought this writ was most surprising for how similar it is in form and structure to a "full" Writ of Summons. Nowadays this attendance is limited to sitting on the judges woolsack at State Opening.

The good news is we now have all the ingredients to form a Parliament. The bad news is that except for Writs of Summons and Writs of Attendance, this all changed post 2011. So back to the beginning!

Dissolution and Summoning (the newer way)

The 2011 Act wrought the biggest changes to these processes since the formation of the United Kingdom in 1801. Dissolutions became an automatic process; the proclamation summoning a new Parliament was much shortened; the issue of writs was decoupled from the proclamations; and a whole new special type of proclamation was invented.

Section 3 of the 2011 Act provides (some irrelevant interpretative provisions excluded) that
(1) The Parliament then in existence dissolves at the beginning of the 17th working day before the polling day for the next parliamentary general election as determined under section 1 or appointed under section 2(7). 
(2) Parliament cannot otherwise be dissolved. 
(3) Once Parliament dissolves, the Lord Chancellor and, in relation to Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State have the authority to have the writs for the election sealed and issued (see rule 3 in Schedule 1 to the Representation of the People Act 1983). 
(4) Once Parliament dissolves, Her Majesty may issue the proclamation summoning the new Parliament which may—
(a) appoint the day for the first meeting of the new Parliament; 
(b) deal with any other matter which was normally dealt with before the passing of this Act by proclamations summoning new Parliaments (except a matter dealt with by subsection (1) or (3)).
So now, rather than a Order-in-Council and a proclamation causing a dissolution, it is entirely automatic. As the Votes and Proceedings notes [30]
Under sections 1(2) and 3(1) of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, the 55th Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was dissolved at the beginning of this day, Monday 30 March 2015.
Section 3(2) is the cause of much academic discourse about whether a repeal of the 2011 Act would revive the prerogative, and is a topic far too vexing for this article.

By section 3(3) then, what was once provided by Order-in-Council is now provided for automatically, and as we will see this guts out most of the summoning half of the proclamation too. And then section 3(4) preserves the power of Her Majesty to, on Her Prime Minister's advice obviously, set the date the new Parliament assembles and, by the curious provision in 3(4)(b), make provision for the House of Lords.

So, on 30th March 2015, Her Majesty held a Council, at which this Order was passed [31]
At the Court at Buckingham Palace 
The 30th Day of March 2015 
Present, 
The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty in Council 
It is this day ordered by Her Majesty in Council that the Right Honourable the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain do cause the Great Seal of the Realm to be affixed to a Proclamation of this day's date calling a new Parliament.
Unlike the pre-2011 world, this Order was not Gazetted. But the resulting proclamation was, as before in all three gazettes [32] [33] [34] but interestingly not as a supplement, and was read as usual at the Royal Exchange and the Mercat Cross. In it's now truncated form, it reads thusly

BY THE QUEEN  
A PROCLAMATION FOR DECLARING THE CALLING OF A NEW PARLIAMENT 
ELIZABETH R. 
Whereas We, by and with the advice of Our Privy Council, being desirous and resolved, as soon as may be, to meet Our People, and to have their Advice in Parliament, do publish this, Our Royal Proclamation, and do hereby make known to all Our loving Subjects Our Royal Will and Pleasure to call a new Parliament to be holden at Westminster on Monday the eighteenth day of May next: And We do hereby also, by this Our Royal Proclamation under Our Great Seal of Our Realm, require Writs to be issued by Our Chancellor of Great Britain for causing the Lords Spiritual and Temporal who are to serve in the said Parliament to give their Attendance in Our said Parliament on the said date. 
Given at Our Court at Buckingham Palace, this thirtieth day of March in the Year of our Lord two thousand and fifteen and in the sixty-fourth year of Our Reign. 
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN
It should be obvious that this is just a shortened version of the previous proclamation, now only setting out the date on which the new Parliament assembles, and requiring the Writs of Summons to be issues to the Lords. I can't help but feel it is poorer for it all, though.

The 2011 Act also modified the Parliamentary Election Rules to compute the timings based on the date of (automatic) dissolution, except for polling day which is to be determined in accordance with section 1 of the 2011 Act itself. This has the slightly unexpected effect that, for the first time, the process of dissolution and election are directly fused together — but not the summoning of the newly elected Parliament.

While the Writs of Summons remain unchanged, the Writs of Election were also amended by the 2011 Act and now the recital beginning 'whereas' reads
Whereas by section 3(1) of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 Parliament has dissolved We Command you that due notice being first given you do cause election to be made according to law of a Member to serve in Parliament for the said [Monmouth] Constituency

Summoning a New Parliament Before 1963

Between the Act of Unions in 1706 [35] and the Peerage Act 1963 [36] the start of each Parliament also necessitated the election of "Representative Peers" for Scotland. The basis for this was provided by Article XXII of the Treaty of Union,
That by virtue of this Treaty, Of the Peers of Scotland at the time of the Union 16 shall be the number to Sit and Vote in the House of Lords
This necessitated — and I did hint about this above — regular elections for these Representative Peers. Originally regulated by an Act of the Parliament of Scotland, and then by a series of Great Britain [37] and then United Kingdom Acts [38] this process essentially involved the Peers of Scotland meeting (or attending by proxy) at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where the Lord Clerk Register [39] would conduct the election. Each Peer of Scotland had sixteen votes, one for each of the spaces (or fewer in a by-election).

This election was caused to happen by a wonderfully prolix proclamation, always issued immediately after the principal dissolution proclamation, here set out in full,

BY THE QUEEN 
A PROCLAMATION 
IN ORDER TO THE ELECTING AND SUMMONING THE SIXTEEN PEERS OF SCOTLAND 
ELIZABETH R. 
Whereas We have in Our Council thought fit to declare Our pleasure for summoning and holding a Parliament of Our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, on Tuesday the twentieth day of October next ensuing the date hereof: In order, therefore, to the electing and summoning the Sixteen Peers of Scotland who are to sit in the House of Peers in the said Parliament, We do, by and with the advice of Our Privy Council, issue forth this Our Royal Proclamation, strictly charging and commanding all the Peers of Scotland to assemble and meet at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, in Edinburgh, on Tuesday the sixth day of October next ensuing at Twelve o'clock Noon to nominate and choose the Sixteen Peers to sit and vote in the House of Peers in the said ensuing Parliament by open Election and Plurality of Voices of the Peers that shall be then present, and of the Proxies of such as shall be absent (such Proxies being Peers and producing a Mandate in Writing duly signed before Witnesses, and both the Constituent and Proxy being qualified according to Law); and the Lord Clerk Register or the Principal Clerk of Session or, in the absence of both these Officers from any cause, such person as may be designated for the purpose by one of Our Principal Secretaries of State, is hereby required to attend such Meeting and to take the Votes of the said Peers and immediately after such Election made and duly examined to certify the names of the Sixteen Peers so elected and to sign and attest the same in the presence of the said Peers the Electors, and return such Certificate into Our High Court of Chancery of Great Britain: and We do, by this Our Royal Proclamation, strictly command and require the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and all other the Magistrates of the said City, to take especial care to preserve the Peace thereof during the time of the said Election, and to prevent all manner of Riots, Tumults, Disorders and Violence whatsoever: And We strictly charge and command that this our Royal Proclamation be duly published at the Market Cross at Edinburgh, and in all the County Towns of Scotland, Ten Days at least before the Time hereby appointed for the Meeting of the said Peers to proceed to such Election.  
Given at Our Court at Buckingham Palace, this eighteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord One thousand nine hundred and fifty-nine, and in the Eighth year of Our Reign. 
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN
This was then published in all three gazettes [40] [41] [42] and read at least at the Mercat Cross — I have been unable to ascertain if the Common Crier of the City of London also read this one.

How this information then made its way to the House of Lords is something we will discuss later. Those elected would obviously be issued with a Writ of Summons in the usual way.

A minor complexity between the Acts of Union in 1801 [43] and the inability to hold any by-elections after 1921 (because the officers required had been abolished) was the process of electing Irish Representative Peers. However, because this was not triggered by the summoning of a new Parliament, we will skip over it.

We are not done yet though.

Summoning a New Parliament before 1966

The Church of England today primarily meets as a General Synod, consisting of the Upper and Lower Houses of the Convocations of Canterbury and York and a national House of Laity. This was born out of the Church Assembly [44] which was created in 1919. But the convocations long predate this. 

For unclear reasons, it had long — very long — [C1] Since Henrician times, for the reasons discussed by Jason Loch and published literally the day after this article, it has been the custom that whenever Parliament was dissolved, the two Convocations were also dissolved, and that likewise whenever a Parliament was summoned the two Convocations were also summoned. In years with two elections this must have been quite annoying.

This last occurred in 1964 [45], where in the London Gazette after the dissolution proclamation and the Order-in-Council concerning the writs of election, we see three further Orders-in-Council, viz.

At the Court at Buckingham Palace 
the 25th day of September 1964 
Present  
The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty in Council 
It is this day ordered by Her Majesty, by and with the advice of Her Privy Council, that the respective Convocations of the Provinces of Canterbury and York be forthwith dissolved: And the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain is to cause Writs to be prepared and issued in the usual manner for that purpose.

At the Court at Buckingham Palace 
the 25th day of September 1964 
Present  
The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty in Council 
It is this day ordered by Her Majesty, by and with the advice of Her Privy Council, that the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain do, upon notice of this Her Majesty's Order, forthwith cause Writs to be issued in form of Law, for electing new Members of the Convocation of the Clergy of the Province of Canterbury, which Writs are to be returnable on Monday, the 18th day of January, 1965.

At the Court at Buckingham Palace 
the 25th day of September 1964 
Present  
The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty in Council 
It is this day ordered by Her Majesty, by and with the advice of Her Privy Council, that the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain do, upon notice of this Her Majesty's Order, forthwith cause Writs to be issued in form of Law, for electing new Members of the Convocation of the Clergy of the Province of York [C3], which Writs are to be returnable on Tuesday, the 19th day of January, 1965.
These clearly follow a similar pattern to how the Parliamentary Orders-in-Council are worded. Though I do note the curiosity that is York having an extra day!

Entirely irrelevant to this article [46], but included here because they're quite unusual, are the 1970 forms of the writs dissolving and summoning the Convocations. I have failed entirely to find what the writs looked like before the link with Parliament was severed, however.

Firstly, the Writ dissolving the Convocation of Canterbury (York would be the same but with minor edits), [47]
ELIZABETH THE SECOND by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Our other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith: 
To the Most Reverend Father in God Our right trusty and well beloved Counsellor [Name], by the same Grace [Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England ]and Metropolitan Greeting: 
Whereas the present Convocation of your Province of [Canterbury] was by Our Writ called together on the [Nth] day of [Month] and is still continued: 
And Whereas We have this day ordered, by and with the advice of Our Privy Council, that the said Convocation be dissolved on the [Nth] day of [Month]: 
herefore We Command you to dissolve the said Convocation on the said day and to signify such dissolution to all Bishops, Deans, Archdeacons and other Clergy whom it does concern. 
WITNESS Ourself at Westminster the [Nth] day of [Month] in the [Nth] year of Our Reign.
And then then the writ summoning a new one,
ELIZABETH THE SECOND by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Our other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith: 
To the Most Reverend Father in God Our right trusty and well beloved Counsellor [Name], by the same Grace [Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England ]and Metropolitan Greeting: 
Whereas We have ordered, by and with the advice of Our Privy Council, that writs be issued for dissolving the Convocations of the Provinces of Canterbury and York and for calling together new Convocations of the said Provinces and for electing new members of the Lower Houses of those Convocations: 
Therefore We Command you on such dissolution to call together a new Convocation of your Province comprising the Bishops of all the dioceses of your Province, and such of the Deans, Archdeacons, and Clergy of your Province as may be elected or otherwise become members of the Lower House of that Convocation in accordinace with the Canon for the Represenation of the Clergy in the Lower House of the Convocation of [Canterbury], to appear before you in [City] or elsewhere as it shall seem most expedient on the [Nth] day or [Month]: 
And this as you love Us, the state of Our Kingdom and the honour and good of the Church of England, by no means omit. [48]
WITNESS Ourself at Westminster the [Nth] day of [Month] in the [Nth] year of Our Reign.
As wonderfully British as this farcical situation was, the Church was beginning to tire of it, and it was interfering with its desire for a more systematic synodical governance arrangement. Consequently, Parliament passed the Church of England Convocations Act 1966 [49], the sole operative section of which [50] provides at sub-section (1) [51]
Notwithstanding any custom or rule of law to the contrary, the Convocations of Canterbury and York may be called together and dissolved at such times as Her Majesty may determine, without regard to the time at which Parliament is summoned or dissolved.
And there the link with between the secular and clerical assemblies ended.

Early Parliamentary General Elections After 2011

Only three elections have been held pursuant to the 2011 Act, each triggered in a different way. The 2015 election was by simple effluxion of time, and is discussed above. In 2017 the procedure found at section 2(1) of the Act was used, which provides (together with sub-section (2))
(1) An early parliamentary general election is to take place if—
(a) the House of Commons passes a motion in the form set out in subsection (2), and 
(b) if the motion is passed on a division, the number of members who vote in favour of the motion is a number equal to or greater than two thirds of the number of seats in the House (including vacant seats).
(2)The form of motion for the purposes of subsection (1)(a) is—
“That there shall be an early parliamentary general election.”
The vote in question occurred on Wednesday 19th April 2017, and that fateful (for Mrs. May, anyway) division is recorded in the Votes & Proceedings (amusingly a week before the bicentenary of the Vote) as [52]
4. Early Parliamentary General Election
Motion made and Question proposed, That there shall be an early parliamentary general election. — (The Prime Minister.) 
The Speaker announced a time limit on backbench speeches (Standing Order No. 47(1)). 
Question again proposed. 
Question put. 
The House divided. 
Division No. 196. 
Ayes: 522 (Tellers: Heather Wheeler, Jackie Doyle-Price).
Noes: 13 (Tellers: Ms Margaret Ritchie, Mark Durkan). 
Question accordingly agreed to.
Parliament was then prorogued on Thursday 27th April (and we will discuss prorogations later) before, on Wednesday 3rd May, the Votes & Proceedings now record [53]
Under sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, as amended by the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013, and pursuant to the Resolution of 19 April 2017, the 56th Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was dissolved at the beginning of this day, Wednesday 3 May 2017.
The amendment by the 2013 Act is of no major consequence here save to observe it made yet more changes to the election timetable. What is curious about this entry is that it does not record why Parliament dissolved automatically on that day.

To answer that question we must turn to section 3(7) of the 2011 Act, which provides
If a parliamentary general election is to take place as provided for by subsection (1) or (3), the polling day for the election is to be the day appointed by Her Majesty by proclamation on the recommendation of the Prime Minister (and, accordingly, the appointed day replaces the day which would otherwise have been the polling day for the next election determined under section 1).
Or, in other words, when an early election occurs pursuant to the 2011 Act, a new type of proclamation is necessary. This is, it transpires, not a reversion to the old way of doing things (alas and alack). Instead, at the Privy Council held on 25th April [54]

At the Court at Windsor Castle 
THE 25th DAY OF APRIL 2017 
PRESENT, 
THE QUEEN'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY IN COUNCIL 
It is this day ordered by Her Majesty in Council that the Right Honourable the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain do cause the Great Seal of the Realm to be affixed to a Proclamation of this day's date appointing Thursday 8th June 2017 as the polling day for the general election of the next Parliament.

This proclamation was then gazetted thricely as usual [55] [56] [57], and its generally anodyne wording is
BY THE QUEEN  
A PROCLAMATION  
APPOINTING THURSDAY THE 8TH DAY OF JUNE 2017 AS THE POLLING DAY FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION OF THE NEXT PARLIAMENT  
ELIZABETH R. 
Whereas, We consider it desirable that Thursday the 8th day of June 2017 should be the polling day for the next parliamentary general election: 
Now, therefore, We in pursuance of section 2(7) of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, on the advice of Our Prime Minister, do hereby appoint Thursday the 8th day of June 2017 as the polling day for the next parliamentary general election. 
Given at Our Court at Windsor Castle this twenty-fifth day of April in the year of Our Lord two thousand and seventeen in the sixty-sixth year of Our Reign. 
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN
Given that it is generally accepted that the 2011 Act may not be long for this world, this might turn out to be a bit of a hapax legomenon of the proclamation world! This proclamation was not publicly read, to the best of my knowledge.

Be that as it may, appointing 8th June as the polling day had the effect of dissolving the Parliament on the 3rd May by application of the other rules in the 2011 Act. Another interesting quirk of this proclamation, born of the requirement in the Act itself, is the explicit mention of the Prime Minister's advice.

A subsequent proclamation was issued on May 3rd appointing June 13th as the day for the meeting of the new Parliament, but as this was in the same form as the 2010 Proclamation we will move on.

There have been two early general elections under the 2011 Act, but only one day fixing proclamation. This is because of a well-known lacuna in the Act itself. While a two-thirds majority is necessary to cause an early general election (absent losing a vote of no-confidence, and then the two-week "cooling off" period expiring) under the Act, a bare majority can simply pass another Act of Parliament to engineer one.

And as we know, after  three [58] failed [59] attempts [60], the present government used exactly this method to get around the super-majority requirement.

Although all similar, taking the motion for the 3rd September as an example, this provides a rare case of a "successful" Commons motion actually being inoperative, which the Votes & Proceedings recorded as
10. Early parliamentary general election (Section 2, Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011)
Motion made and Question proposed, That there shall be an early parliamentary general election. — (The Prime Minister.) 
As it was ninety minutes after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, the Speaker put the Question necessary to bring proceedings to conclusion (Standing Order No. 16(1)). 
Question put. 
The House divided. 
Division No. 443
Ayes: 298 (Tellers: Stuart Andrew, Iain Stewart)
Noes: 56 (Tellers: Tom Brake, Jonathan Edwards) 
Question accordingly agreed to, the number of Members voting in favour of the motion being fewer than two thirds of the number of seats in the House (including vacant seats). 
This begat the (surprisingly long, given what it does) Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019 [61], the important part of which provides
(1) An early parliamentary general election is to take place on 12 December 2019 in consequence of the passing of this Act. 
(2) That day is to be treated as a polling day appointed under section 2(7) of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.
That "to be treated as" in sub-section (2) is what obviated the need for a date-setting proclamation, by instead essentially having sub-section (1) stand in its place.

This time, however, the Votes & Proceedings helpfully mention the 2019 Act [62]
Under sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, as amended by the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013, and section 1 of the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019, the 57th Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is dissolved at the beginning of Wednesday 6 November 2019.
And that concludes this part. In part II, we move on to looking at what happens when the new Parliament actually assembles.

Corrigenda

[C1] Let's link to Jason Loch's blog discussing the reason why the Convocations and Parliament were summoned and dissolved together.
[C2] The defectively labelled footnotes 36-39 have been corrected, as spotted by Robert Seddon.
[C3] Rich Greenhill correctly spotted that when lazily copy+pasting the Canterbury Order to make the York one (which differs only in the return date) I didn't change this to 'York'. 

Colophon

The Votes and Proceedings, the Lords Journals, and the Hansards are available under the Open Parliament License, and the London Gazette and the Privy Council orders are available under the essentially equivalent Open Government License.

As always, errors and corrections welcome! 


[1] And we will toss in Queen's and Prince of Wales' consents too since they are logically best treated of in this series, despite having nothing to do with the title.
[2] The Wikipedia article on this is pretty comprehensive.
[3] 2011 cap. 14, we are hereafter going to call this the "2011 Act"
[4] Actually a pair of Orders
[5] The London Gazette, Supplement 59388, page 6393, published Tuesday, 13th April 2010 (text above taken from this one, but all three are identical)
[6] The Edinburgh Gazette, Supplement 26774, page 1461, published Tuesday 13th April 2010
[7] The Belfast Gazette, Supplement 7181, page 1, published Tuesday 13th April 2010
[8] See this video on Youtube
[9] And this one, which albeit for 2015 has the ceremonial correct even if the Lord Lyon is reading the post-2011 Act proclamation.
[10] To be found in Schedule 1 to the Representation of the People Act 1983 (cap. 2), and you specifically want this version.
[11] This is actually in a table in the original, which I can't easily reproduce here, but you get the idea.
[12] This originally said "tenth" until amended by the Representation of the People Act 1985 (cap. 50)
[13] Whereas in the past all (or almost all) Orders-in-Council were gazetted, this remained essentially the last example of this.
[14] Some Returning Officers (let's ignore the Acting bit for now) obviously serve for multiple constituencies, but the office is specific to each one, so this is an example of an official wearing multiple "hats"
[15] As specified in the Appendix of Forms to the Parliamentary Election Rules.
[16] This proviso was added by the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 (cap. 19), which essential decoupled the ceremonial nature of counties in Wales from all aspects of local governance — an administrative farrago well outwith this blog's scope!
[17] The gory details can be found in rules 3 and 4 of the Parliamentary Election Rules, and in the Parliamentary Writs Order 1983 (S.I. 1983 No. 605). I will blog about just this one aspect of elections in the future since it is quite involved!
[18] No, not post 1999 elections, we are going back the other way...
[19] I say theory, but this did happen more than once.
[20] 1999 cap. 34
[21] This varies by rank of the peer in question, so that a Duke has "right trusty and right entirely beloved cousin"; a Marquess or an Earl "right trusty and entirely beloved cousin"; and a Viscount "right trusty and well-beloved cousin".
[22] "Counsellor" is included only for Privy Counsellors
[23] The continuing presence of "Chevalier" here remains one of life's mysteries
[24] Since 2000, the words "Great Women" also appear here.
[25] S.I. 1982 No. 1082; this also contains full texts of the Letters Patent appointing Peers, writs to summon the Convocations of Canterbury and York, and some other oddities.
[26] Reproduced from the appendix first report of the Committee of Privileges, 1998-99. Which is online somewhere if you Google, but I have it on paper.
[27] Note the lack of a "the" or a "Right Honourable". An accelerated peer lived in a sort of limbo between a courtesy title and a real one.
[28] He was made a life peer on 17th November 1999 to enable him to remain in the Lords, became Marquess in 2003, and retired from the Lords in 2017 (to my great sadness, a House of Lords without a Salisbury is incomplete)
[29] See footnote 26; for other Law Officers and so on the forms would be very similar.
[30] Votes and Proceedings, Session 2014-15, No. 134
[31] Orders Approved, 30th March 2015
[32] The London Gazette, No. 61188, page 6014, 30th March 2015
[33] The Edinburgh Gazette, No. 7749, page 246, 30th March 2015
[34] The Belfast Gazette, No. 27542, page 430, 2nd April 2015
[35] 6° Anne cap. 11 and 1707 ca. 7 (Scotland)
[36] 1963 cap. 48
[37] The Scottish Representative Peers Act 1707, 6° Anne cap. 48 (which I have failed to find in Statutes of the Realm, but the Peerage Act 1963 purports to repeal it so it must have existed  somewhere!)
[38] The Representative Peers (Scotland) Act 1847, 10° & 11° Vict. cap. 52; The Representative Peers (Scotland) Act 1851, 14° & 15° Vict. cap. 87.
[39] One of the Great Officers of State of Scotland, presently the Lord Mackay of Clashfern, who was amusingly the Lord Chancellor that Writ in Acceleration warrant above was directed to.
[40] The London Gazette, Supplement 41821, page 5971
[41] The Edinburgh Gazette, Supplement 17752, page 2
[42] The Belfast Gazette, Supplement 1995, 335
[43] 39° & 40° Geo. III. cap. 67 and 40° Geo III. cap. 38 (Ireland)
[44] By the Synodical Government Measure 1969 (No. 2), which amended the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919 (9° & 10° Geo. V. cap. 76)
[45] The 1966 General Election only didn't cause this effect by mere weeks, as we will shortly see.
[46] Well it's really because I went to the effort of typing them out because the 1970 Order has not be OCRed...!
[47] Crown Office (Writs for Dissolving and Summoning Convocations) Rules 1970 (S.I. 1970 No. 821)
[48] This is easily my favourite line in any writ or warrant anywhere. It today displaced my previous favourite, which is in the old dissolution proclamation "discharged from their attendance thereat"
[49] 1966 cap. 2
[50] Section 2 gives it a short title and doesn't even bother to give it an extent or commencement clause...
[51] Sub-section 2 is actually of some minor current import, since it provides viz. "A Convocation of Canterbury or York shall (unless sooner dissolved pursuant to Her Majesty’s directions) stand dissolved at the expiration of the period of five years [...] beginning with the date for which it was called together.", which would be this Summer since General Synod quinquennia are intentionally synchronised with years divisible by five; necessitating section 84 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 to provide a power for Her Majesty to suspend the otherwise inevitable dissolution. Presumably this also means the Convocations were never dissolved between 1935 and 1945, being at the time coupled to Parliament's existence.
[52] Votes and Proceedings, No. 137, Session 2016-17
[53] Votes and Proceedings, No. 143, Session 2016-17
[54] Orders Approved, 25th April 2017
[59] Votes and Proceedings, No. 341, Session 2017-19 — and despite the Vote here recording that the House "adjourned" it did not not. It was prorogued, in a prorogation subsequently (and let's ignore my opinions on that for now) quashed, and the Journals were then vandalised by the order of the Speaker, to the loss of all future historians (and even to my minor confusion earlier when I couldn't remember where the invalid prorogation had gone).